1969/70 Datsun 240Z - Reader Resto

By: Marc Abdelahad with Guy Allen, Photography by: Guy Allen/Marc Abelahad

Presented by

datsun 240z datsun 240z
datsun 240z bonnet up datsun 240z bonnet up
datsun 240z rear datsun 240z rear
datsun 240z side datsun 240z side
datsun 240z engine block datsun 240z engine block
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With nothing more than a very second-hand Datsun 240Z shell to start with, Marc Abdelahad took on a massive job


1969/70 Datsun 240Z

I’ve now owned the Zed for 14 years, and it wasn’t my first. Before then I had a 260Z 2+2, which was my father’s car. I restored that when I was 17 and after that just fell in love with Zeds.

This one is an early girl, number 418, which makes it 1969-70. I bought it as a shell with no mechanicals, no internals and no doors! I had five or six at one stage, using them for parts. Now I’ve got three left – this one, another 240 and the 260.

The whole Zed thing started when Dad bought his 260 when I was 13 or 14 and I gave him a hand when he did the first paint job on it.

Datsun -240z -resto

As I started learning more about the cars, I wanted to get a Series I. About this time a friend of mine owned a Zed restoration business in Mordialloc. So I went down to visit and saw this car (or what there was of it) hanging from the rafters by a few chains. We had a bit of a chat and he said give me $400 and it’s yours, and then I bought another from him for $400 just to get the roof off it! This car had one of those old sunroofs, so I had to reskin the roof.

It’s had a lot of mechanical upgrades along the way. The motor is an L28 which has been bored out 20 thou with Ross Racing forged pistons in it. The crank has been linished and balanced and is still running standard conrods, while there’s a standard cam, ARP head studs and still running standard head gasket.

Datsun -240z -resto -1

Daily driving it runs about 16 pounds of boost, and up to around 23 pound at the flick of a switch.

I bought a heap of injection gear from a place called EFI Hardware in Mitcham, including some extruded aluminium tube for the rail. I drilled it out, tapped it and made my own fuel rail. The injectors are aftermarket 890cc Siemens low impedence.

Of course I had been reading up on DIY fuel injection and came across this thing in the USA called the Mega Squirt. It’s an ECU you build yourself – they send you the circuit board and all the components. You solder it together yourself and there are little tests you can do along the way to ensure you’re doing it properly. It took me about six hours. And then I made my own wiring loom, installed it on the car – which took about a day and a half – turned the key and she started!

Datsun -240z -resto -2

I also fabricated the stainless steel exhaust. It was the first time I picked up a TIG welder, which I purchased from one of the guys on the Zed forum. It was an absolute pain in the arse to do, particularly since I didn’t have access to a hoist. There was a lot of swearing.

The radiator and intercooler were off eBay – I still have the originals but to get them recored these days costs a fortune and the aluminium units have better cooling capacity.

The transmission is an S14 five-speed gearbox out of a 200SX. I’m on my second one and it’s borderline coping with the power at the moment. Now I’m considering trying an RB25 box out of a Nissan ZX.

Datsun -240z -painting

The drive shafts also came in for a change-over – they’re now adapted items out of a 300ZX, while the diff is an LSD from an HR31 Skyline.

This was the first fuel-injected car that I’ve played with – prior to that it was all carbies. It was a steep learning curve, working how to tune it. It’s fully programmable. I haven’t put it on a dyno yet, but at a guess I’d say it’s about 220kW at the wheels.

That one there from the factory weighed about 960 kilos. But with the diff upgrade, the driveshafts, the turbo set-up and the stereo system, I’ve got it up at around 1200 kilos now.

Datsun -240z -painting -2

The turbo was a gift, a Garrett GT2871R (4) it’s a moderate size turbo with hardly any lag. They’re commonly used on SR20 (a four-cylinder Nissan engine – Ed). For what I use it for, it’s perfect. It spools up nice and quick, while the engine can be revved up to 7500rpm and it’s still pulling.

I crunched the numbers and built it for 450 horses – it’s fun to drive.

Datsun -240z -wheel

As for the brakes, the front discs have been upgraded from solid to vented rotors, which are off a Peugeot 504 – pretty much a direct bolt-on. The calipers are four-pots off a Toyota 4Runner, which is a direct bolt-on. The rear brakes were drums but are now discs adapted from an R31 station wagon. I was going to restore the wheel cylinders, but the kits were ridiculously priced. So I converted to disc and haven’t looked back.

The wheels are Rota RBs, and it was quite a challenge to work out whether or not they were going to fit. I have modified the suspension. The struts have been shortened by about 50mm. I was at uni at the time and couldn’t justify four grand back then for a set of coil-overs. So by the time I modified the suspension, it cost me about $300 for a set of shockers, which are KYBs.

Datsun -240z -engine

It’s a little soft at the moment. I repositioned the spring saddle and I’m still running the original springs, so still get full travel and it’s quite comfortable, but it’s a little too soft. So that’s next on the list. The front wheels are 17 x 7 with a plus 20 offset, while the rears are 17 x 8.5 with a plus four offset.

For the interior I managed to get some of the original plastic and vinyl mouldings and prepare them and give them a flick of paint to restore some life back into them. The seats are aftermarket, while the carpet I did myself, along with the rooflining, which is made from a bit of material bought from Spotlight.

Datsun -240z -door -trim

The body colour is an HSV one from the VS Senator, and it’s called black cherry mica. It does have a custom pearl through it. That’s almost the only thing I didn’t do myself – a friend did that for me – though I did all the preparation.

Why colour bumpers? The cost was a factor in that. I got a quote off one place and they wanted $1200 per bumper to rechrome them. I also thought they might break up the colour of the car too much, so I decided to colour code them instead. There are aftermarket stainless steel bumpers you can buy, but I’ve heard stories that they don’t fit up correctly and I kinda like the look of them blending in.

Datsun -240z -dash

By far the toughest part of the job was the original rust repair, which took about 18 months to do. There was a lot of work. The floors needed to be replaced – these things are renowned for rust and there wasn’t one panel in the car that didn’t have rust in it. Despite that, it was a budget restoration.

Getting the original badges proved to be surprisingly easy, often through eBay. Nissan in America still sells them as the Zeds were strong sellers over there and still have a following. The prices are now ridiculous, but I bought these several years ago when they weren’t too bad.

Datsun -240z -marc -abdelahad

If I was going to offer advice to a would-be Zed owner, it’s check all the common spots for rust: battery tray, sills, floors, because that alone can set you back a lot unless you’re handy on the tools.



Datsun -240z -marc -abdelahad

It seems like the choice of turbo was spot-on, avoiding the temptation to go too big


Datsun -240z -marc -abdelahad

Making up adaptor plates is just part of the fun when you're mixing and matching components


Datsun -240z -brace

Home-made suspension tower braces are fitted to both ends


Datsun -240z -before

Once the prep was done, this was one of the few areas o the car handed over to a specialist


Datsun -240z -exhaust 

Buy a used TIG welder and make your own exhaust - hwo hard could it be? Very, apparently


Datsun -240z -cockpitBuilt from some spare mouldings and a pair of aftermarket seats, the interior is very functional

Datsun -240z -roof -panel

There wasn't a single panel that didn't need surgery. A big job!




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